When a sports idol quits, don't call it 'retirement'


An elderly man named Sid called with an idea for a change in the language of the world of sports.

"I was just watching this Joe Montana on TV," he said. "He was announcing his retirement. But he's not really retiring, is he?"

Yes, he will no longer play football.

"That's not what I mean. I'm retired. I worked 45 years. Then I got a pension. Now I sit home all day and count my dimes because I'm too damn old to do anything else.

"This Montana, he's a youngster. And he's just quitting one job and starting in on something else. So instead of saying that he's retiring, you news people ought to say he's quitting."

But the results are the same.

"Oh no they're not. There are a heck of a lot of differences."

Such as?

"Well, is he buying a used RV so that he and his wife can drive down to Florida when it gets cold?"

I seriously doubt that.

"See? I'll bet he's not doing any of the things that a normal person does when he retires. I've been retired for 10 years, and I know them all. I can tell you about them."

So with Sid's expertise, we've put together a list of things a person must do to earn the status of "retired."

* Is Montana planning to drive to California to visit his sister?

"About half the guys I worked with said they were going to do that when they retired," Sid said. "The guys who didn't have sisters in California said they were going to take the vacation in Hawaii that they always dreamed about. I was lucky because I didn't have a sister in California. I went to Hawaii and got a bad sunburn."

* Is Montana going to sit around the house most of the day, driving his wife up a wall until she tells him to get out and do something?

"I know I'm really getting to her," Sid said, "when she tells me to go out and shovel the driveway and it is the middle of June."

* Is the highlight of Montana's day a walk down to the neighborhood diner for a cup of coffee and some conversation with other retirees?

"This was a pretty good winter because we had the O.J. case to talk about," Sid said. "On days when there was nothing new in the trial, we had Michael Jordan's comeback. And on the real slow days, we could compare ailments. One morning we had a group at the counter with two triple bypasses, two prostates, a hip replacement, a colon, a cataract job and a 90 percent hearing loss in one ear."

* Is the highlight of Montana's week gathering up the coupons in the food section of the newspaper and doing the shopping at the supermarket?

"I could spend the whole day going up and down the aisles reading labels and comparing prices, but my wife's feet wouldn't hold up."

* Is Montana going to go through the house and gather up all the jars and bowls containing coins and haul them to the bank to have them counted and exchanged for cash?

"That was the first thing I did when I retired," Sid said. "Now, I don't accumulate coins because I use them to pay for things. It really gets people mad when I take my time counting out $4 or $5 worth of small change at the checkout counter. What's the rush? I've got nothing but time."

* When Montana goes to Florida with his wife, are they going to always have dinner at a restaurant's early-bird special?

"Here's a good tip," Sid said. "If you're going to have a cocktail, always order it straight up instead of on the rocks because you get more booze that way. There's no sense in spending good money on melted ice."

* When Montana and his wife dine out, are they going to drop a few table items in their purse or pockets?

"On one trip to Florida, we didn't buy a single loaf of bread or a box of sugar because we socked away so many sugar packets and dinner rolls. That's why I like places that serve mustard and ketchup in those little packets. You can't take it home if it's in a bottle."

* Is Montana going to send any long, angry letters to his congressmen or the letters section of a newspaper?

"When I was working, I wouldn't even send a postcard," Sid said. "But now I write to my congressman all the time, telling him how he's screwing up. They always send back real pathetic letters saying they'll try harder. So I just bawl them out even worse. Keeps them on their toes."

* Will Montana ever miss a chance to say that life used to be better and that the whole country is falling apart and a tomato has no taste and Nixon wouldn't look too bad right now?

"He's still so young, I bet he doesn't know who Spiro Agnew was."

Finally, Sid said: "If you need any more proof that he's not really retiring, at his press conference, he didn't once mention his prostate."

Maybe there is nothing wrong with it.


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